Trick-or-treat with the Greeks
Carolina’s fraternity and sorority students—all 3,700 of them—are getting set for the fifth-annual Trick-Or-Treat with the Greeks, Oct. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Greek Village.
"...fraternities and sororities raised more than a half-million dollars for charity, which set a new record for Carolina."
Fraternities and sororities will give treats to costumed children knocking on their doors, followed by a carnival held in the grassy center of the Greek Village.
Hundreds of children from the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands will attend the event, along with the children of University staff and faculty. Relay races, face painting, mummy wrapping, and other activities will be part of the festivities, with nearly all of the 34 Greek chapters participating. This year, Greeks will be joined by The Big Read organization, which will hand out books to promote literacy.
While Trick-Or-Treat is a community outreach effort, Carolina’s fraternities and sororities are also committed to fund raising for charitable causes. The annual Dance Marathon this past February raised a record $111,000 for Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital and was attended by more than 1,000 Greek and non-Greek participants—also a record. The annual Blood Drive, celebrating 25 years this year, is held during the week of the Carolina-Clemson game and is the largest in the state. In addition, each sorority and fraternity supports its own individual charity in a big way.
"If you put all of these Greek efforts together during the past year, fraternities and sororities raised more than a half-million dollars for charity, which set a new record for Carolina,” said Office of Greek Life Director Ron Binder. “Most have a long-term relationship with the charitable organization they’re raising money for."
Holly Stout, a member of Chi Omega Sorority and Office of Greek Life student worker, said she wasn’t initially going to join a sorority at Carolina. But when she heard how the organizations can make a difference in the community, she changed her mind. Chi Omega chose the Make-A-Wish Foundation as its individual charity, raising funds through teams sponsored during a wing-eating contest.
“Our sororities and fraternities have so much more to offer than people think,” said Stout, a senior who said Greeks welcome non-Greeks to team up and support events like the Dance Marathon and individual charities.
Holly’s parents, Stuart and Shelby Stout of Charlotte, N.C., established the March Forth With Hope Foundation in honor of Holly’s sister, Hope, who died with cancer at age 12. The Stout’s foundation helps families with large medical bills to pay regular expenses such as utilities. The family’s foundation is an endeavor Stout said she might devote her full attention to upon graduation.
Thomas Corcoran, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and student representative for Trick-Or-Treat with the Greeks, said planning enjoyable events for children creates its own fraternal bond through philanthropy. So does Greek Week each spring when fraternities compete in events and then cap it off with an entire service day cleaning up the Columbia campus in cooperation with University staff. Lambda Chi Alpha supports the North American Food Drive, held in cooperation with Harvest Hope, to collect canned goods.
“The best part of Trick-Or-Treat for me, as a service co-chair on the Greek Programming Board, is planning out all of the games we’ll be offering the kids. There are so many new ideas that fraternity members are offering to make the event better each time,” Corcoran said.
“Every Greek organization is working on a different Trick-Or-Treat with the Greeks activity for the children attending the carnival,” said Helen Knight, a Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority member and Trick-Or-Treat student representative. “It’s such a great event because we get to see everyone we know who spend so much of their day helping.”
One of the most important aspects of being in a sorority comes in dispelling any negative perceptions about Greek Life, Knight said. Zeta Tau Alpha chose breast cancer awareness as its charity, and through a Crown Classic golf charity that raised more than $50,000 last year, became the top Greek fundraiser on campus. Zeta Tau Alpha ranks first among its chapters statewide in fund raising, and third nationally.
“The reason I joined a sorority and Greek life was to be part of the exemplary work that Greeks do through our passion to serve the world around us,” Knight said.
While some might perceive Carolina’s Greek community as insular, the truth is that more than three-quarters of all fraternity and sorority members are involved in other organizations on campus, Binder said. They also rate their undergraduate experiences very high, and some of the most-involved alumni the University graduates are Greeks.
“Being a member of Tri Delta shaped my college experience, provided my first job, and supplied me with invaluable resources and skills,” said Kinsey Cooper, who received two degrees from Carolina including a master’s of education in 2005. She is now a director of alumni programs with the Carolina Alumni Association.
The Greek Village opened in 2002 and is now home to 11 fraternities and nine sororities. Greek membership has grown so much that plans to identify land for new Greek housing are in the works, Binder said. The Greek Village has been a magnet with its close proximity to the Strom Thurmond Wellness & Fitness Center and Colonial Life Arena.
Chapters have adopted policies that require members to eat their meals at their house, which builds a sense of unity attracting many new members. In addition to the Greek Village, three chapters are housed in McBryde Quad: Phi Sigma Kappa, Delta Upsilon, and Alpha Phi Alpha.
For the future, new groups are being added to the campus to accommodate the growth in membership. Phi Mu sorority was recently formed with 250 new members, with Alpha Gamma Delta sorority coming to Carolina in 2013. For the fraternities, Beta Theta Pi will be returning during spring 2010, with more fraternities likely being added over the next few years. “It’s a nice problem to have,” Binder said.